Thursday, April 5, 2007

A New Tool In the Copyright Wars

I was pleased to see in the Chronicle's Academe Today an article about a new Copyright Renewal Database at Stanford University. It appears that this database could be an invaluable tool for tracking down the copyright status of books published in the "gray years" from 1923-1963.

In spite of the much publicized efforts of Google Book Search and Microsoft Live Book Search, we are still a long ways away from having everything online. In the humanities in general and in religion and theology in particular we will still be dependent on a vast historical corpus for a long time to come. And judging by the kinds of publishing data to be found in places like YBP's annual book price update report, we are still building the modern corpus at record rates. It could be 120 years or longer before we will have online access to these materials. Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database is a laudable effort, but there are still many battles to be fought in the copyright wars.

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